|A sweeping view of hayfields at the ChesLen Preserve|
We parked in a small lot near the southern end of the preserve and began our 3-mile loop walk by entering fields that gradually transitioned into woodlands. The woods, relatively young second-growth forest full of the invasive plants that typify all second-growth woods in the northern Piedmont, offered pleasant walking. While the preserve's excellent trail map only showed one trail threading through the woods, Kali and I found ourselves wandering on what was actually a spiderweb of trails throughout the forest. We finally descended straight downhill on one of the paths to reach a pleasant, wooded tributary of the West Branch of Brandywine Creek.
|Brandywine Creek tributary|
|Polywogs in a placid channel alongside the main stream|
|Kali ascending the hill through grasslands|
Because CheLen will become one of the NLT's signature preserves (both for its size and the diversity of habitats it protects), the conservancy recently completed a new visitor contact/public events/land stewardship center on a knoll overlooking the fields. It's a classy facility reflective of the importance of the preserve. The new facility will be dedicated in June.
|New visitor contact/public events/stewardship center|
|A bit "raw," but impressive nonetheless|
|Buttercups along the trail|
|Fleabane (Erigeron spp.) hosting two native bees|
|May-apple (Podophyllum peltatum) with fruit on the streambank|
|Kali picking her way across the stream on natural stepping stones|